ON PARIS

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

#February #IWSG - Damyanti Biswas gets beneath my skin!



Hi all!

This IWSG I have a treat for you. True to my intent to read more bloggers' books and to review same, I've invited the wonderful Damyanti Biswas to hang out on my blog today.


Damyanti and I have a long history as bloggers. She actually sent me the beginning of her book some years ago when we thought we'd become critique partners. Because of our different genres and writing styles, it didn't work out, but I certainly still recognize the beginning.

Many of you have seen Damyanti's book shoot up the Amazon best-seller charts and have cheered her on. But in this post, Damyanti shares the flip side of her book's success.

As a writer it is hard for me to admit I'm insecure, and yet, that's precisely what the Insecure Writers Support Group, and this post, is about. My insecurities vary from day to day, but in the last year, most of them have centred around my debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin.

It is doing well in its home country, and has had excellent reviews outside India as well. You might think I'd have very little to be insecure about, but you'd be wrong. I've pledged all my proceeds from You Beneath Your Skin to two non-profits, Stop Acid Attacks and Project WHY. Both are excellent organisations, and deserve all our support.

Books don't pay a lot, as anyone in the publishing world will tell you. I knew this going in, so I'm not sure why I made it public knowledge that I intended to donate all my proceeds. No matter how many copies sell, unless they sell in the millions, it would hardly make a tangible financial difference to these non-profits. We're hoping to sell other rights, but that's a long shot So, long story short, I'm terrified I won't be able to help the two causes as much as I'd like to.


Damyanti wth acid-attack survivors.

So far, I've had a few instances of readers donating to the causes. In one instance, it was as much as nearly 2000 USD, in several others about 100 USD each. That's was heartening, because clearly, these are readers who were moved by Anjali and Sujni and Sakhi's story in You Beneath Your Skin. Even if I've been able to reach one reader, surely that's worth it?


My silly ego says no. It is still ashamed of not being able to make a huge difference. So, over the months, this is what I've been telling myself about my publishing journey, and I'm hoping that some of what I've learned will resonate with you on yours:

1. Do not compare--your writing journey is your own. Everyone has theirs. In the way of comparison lies misery.

2. Every publisher has more than one book on their plate. Your book's best advocate is you.

3. If you're self-publishing, learn the ropes before you hope for a bestseller.

4. In fact, a bestseller is an amalgamation of a lot of factors--and not all are always within your control.

5. Decide early why you are in this writing business. All goals are valid, but your approach will vary based on your goal.

6. Be nice to people. Do not expect all relationships to be transactional. Focus on giving, and let others decide whether they want to reciprocate.

7. Ask for reviews, but be courteous and professional about it.

8. Do not whine or rant, unless it is a super-exceptional occasion. The writing and publishing journey is not for sissies.

9. Write the best book you can. There's no replacement for that.

10. Love yourself. Your writing success should not come at the cost of your health.

At various times, one or the other of these has helped me stay calm amid the storm that threatened to take over in the past few months. Let us hope that You beneath Your Skin will help Stop Acid Attacks and Project WHY in some substantial way.

I have made peace with the fact that the book may or may not succeed in helping the non-profits, but I have to go on regardless. Writing, and trying to make a tiny bit of difference is what my journey is about.

What about you? Does the publishing journey make you insecure? What are the lessons you would like to share from your journey?


Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi's underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. She was recently awarded The Fay Khoo Award in Penang, Malaysia. You can find her on her blog and twitter. 

Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin is an Amazon bestseller, all author proceeds of which will support the education and empowerment of women at Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

PLEASE HELP BY TWEETING!

Help #StopAcidAttacks now! Read Damyanti Biswas’ guest post for the #IWSG https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/01/february-iwsg-damyanti-biswas-gets.html @damyantig


#IWSG guest post Damyanti Biswas #ProjectWHY https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/01/february-iwsg-damyanti-biswas-gets.html @damyantig





Alex's awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

  Be sure to visit them if you can and don't forget to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

Thanks for visiting my blog today.


If you haven't already bought Damyanti's book and/or left a review, let's do it now!




44 comments:

  1. We can help and do our best but we can't control a book's success. As they say, just write the next book and keep building on it.

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    1. Yes, that's what I say to myself. Thanks, Alex.

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  2. Alex is right about not being able to control a book's success, though I would be insecure about it. Thanks for sharing your tips, Dayanti. Good luck with your book.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. This week in particular, I need all the help I can get.

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  3. You summarise the lessons well, Damyanti. I had dreams with my debut - unrealistic ones in retrospect. My intent to donate to diabetes research weren't publicised, thankfully as the book sold few copies. A few of my journalist copies reviewed it, but fewer than ones who claimed to want to read it - same with others I interacted with in the horse world. I'm glad to see your book is getting the attention it deserves - may it continue to at least draw attention to the issues.

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    1. Thanks, Ronald, and amen--may both our books continue to draw attention to the causes they support.

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  4. Your book's best advocate is you - YES! I work hard to promote and market all of DLP's books, but the best promoter is always the author as I can only do so much for each book.

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    1. It is always a joy to have a supportive publisher, but yes, no one can advocate a book like an author can.

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  5. This book is so well written - powerful and heart-breaking and heart-lifting. It will stay with you for a long time. And I think that's going to help the book have a long and healthy life - bringing awareness and hopefully money to those charities.

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    1. That's so kind of you to say, Jemi. Thanks for your continued support

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  6. Marketing is always hard. But it is what we signed up for. A great book like yours will have long legs, and I wish you the highest of sales, Damyanti. :-) As for donating your proceeds, every bit of money helps a good cause. The Legend of Victor Standish hasn't given millions to the Salvation Army, but I still donate whatever I get from that book to them. :-)

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    1. Thanks so much, Roland, and thanks for doing your part by giving to the Salvation Army.

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  7. Some solid advice there. You echoed many thoughts that I've often felt to be important to a writer's sanity!

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  8. I'm thrilled for Damyanti and she should be so proud of her success, but, believe me I totally understand the insecurities. It looks as though things point to a very successful venture, and fingers crossed it turns out to be just that! It's a great book and such worthwhile causes. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Yolanda. SO grateful for the read and review.

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  9. Great advice from Damyanti! All the best for this book and the future ones.

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    1. Thank you Nilanjana--glad you found it useful.

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  10. I agree, writing/publishing is not for sissies :)

    That's great of you to donate your profits charity. Good luck with the sales.

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    1. Thank you, Dolorah. And yes, as writers, we need to made of strong stuff.

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  11. Hi Denise - thanks for hosting Damyanti here - she's really set us an example of how to promote a book ... it's been great to follow her journey.

    You Beneath Your Skin is an excellent read ... and I highly recommend us all buying a copy or two - so we can help the two charities, as well as promote Damyanti's book to a wider audience.

    Good luck - and great interview - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary it is an honour to host such a writer as Damyanti. The thing is, unless something happens to gain traction, the early sales are most telling. Thanks for supporting Damyanti too Hilary. You’re all over this!

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    2. Hilary, can't thank you enough for your support. I have friends like you who have helped the cause and the book.

      So grateful to Denise for the spot here.

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  12. Hi Denise, Hi Damyanti!
    Thank you for sharing your experience. All of it, I can relate too in some way or the other. I do hope that the book gains even more momentum and achieve film rights and becomes a movie. You have done an awesome job of stepping out there, and I believe it will be rewarded, sooner or later.
    All the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Thanks Pat. Even though Damyanti is feeling insecure now I believe there’s a payoff coming. With causes such as this, we hope so.

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    2. Pat, from your lips to God's ears. A film deal will really help the two nonprofits.

      Denise, I so hope you're right. I'll continue to feel insecure, because unless I manage to get a better hold on my ego, I'll find something else to be insecure about. :)

      But if the book helps the nonprofits, it would make me feel so much better about being in this world torn by strife and violence.

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  13. I really enjoyed this book, and I love that it ripped open the topic of attacks on women. Kudos to Damyantil

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    1. Yes Lee. It gets to the heart.

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    2. Thanks so much, Lee, for the read and the review. Reads an reviews from friends like you and Denise have really helped the book reach new hands.

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  14. Good tips, Damyanti. The trick is to follow them, but that's up to us.
    Your book and your cause are so powerful and heart-breaking. Acid attacks upon women are horrible.

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    1. Thanks, Olga. My tips come from experience, and I slip up once in a while. This list is a good reminder to self.

      I agree that the attacks on women is heart-breaking. The book came out of the helpless rage I felt at the time I was writing it--just after the gang-rape tragedy in New Delhi.

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  15. Denise - thank you for bringing us Damyanti's remarks.

    "Even if I've been able to reach one reader, surely that's worth it?"

    OMG yes it's worth it! Because each reader you reach plants a seed. And maybe that seed won't flourish immediately, but in due season, it will. And it will grow and spread awareness with succeeding seasons. And don't discount the monetary help your book proceeds give to your non-profits. There is one person with a spare $100 to give, but many thousands with spare nickels.

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    1. Lee it’s my pleasure to host Damyanti. This is a book which will continue to give.

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    2. Thanks for the wise words, Lee. I believe each one of them.

      Denise is very kind to give me space on her excellent blog.

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  16. I think what Damyanti's doing is excellent and selfless. Hopefully it'll go a long way to raising awareness of these charities and issues. A great list of pointers here for any writer too!

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  17. Thank you, Nick. I'm doing what I can--I don't know if I would have been able to donate all my proceeds if I did not have a spouse supporting me.

    I do hope though, that the book works towards raising awareness for the causes it supports.

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  18. Thank you for stopping by my blog.
    Thank you for sharing Damyanti's story. I understand her insecurity about helping the causes she cares about.
    Reaching at least one reader is totally worth it.

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    1. It has raised awareness of the non-profits Damyanti supports which is awesome for a writer. How much money the book makes can't be regulated.

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  19. Such good advice! I especially love point #6. I'm so glad to see Beneath Your Skin doing so well. It's a wonderful books :)

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    1. It certainly is Ellen, and Damyanti is a writer with a heart of gold.

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  20. It's a wonderful book... and for such a worthwhile cause.

    Does the publishing journey make you insecure? Yes... very!
    What are the lessons you would like to share from your journey? I've decided that writing must always be fun. Even in the difficult moments, the fun element must still be there. Writing must never feel like a chore.

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  21. 9 and 10 are my favourite pieces of advice. Damyanti, I'm sure you are doing a lot of good with your book. Awareness is as important as financial aid.

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  22. Don't EVER Give up hope, Damyanti... your help in this cause will attract the right people to get the word out globally. Your passion, kindness, and TALENT will help this worthy cause. You are truly one of the Earthly Angels I write about on my blog from time-to-time. Very few authors would give up all their royalties to help make the world a better place. Remember this every time you feel insecure.

    Thanks for featuring Damyanti today, Denise. I hope all is well....

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Michael. Hope you're recuperating well. In your busy schedule I hope you can pop by and wish WEP a happy 10th anniversary!

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